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Thomaston: Crawling To Safety
Although I was only 4 or 5 at the time, I remember the Flood of 1955 vividly.
My parents lived in the main family house in Thomaston. This house was at the very southern edge of Thomaston, almost in Waterbury.
It sat on a small rise, across what was then Route 8 from the Naugatuck River. The night before the Flood we had all been busy, including two uncles of mine home on leave from the service, harvesting a bumper crop of pears from a huge pear tree in our front yard. We watched the river quickly rise to the point where it became a concern.
That evening the water crossed the road. We heard a car horn and people yelling. My father and my uncles went to investigate, returning with a man and his wife who had become stranded when the water became too deep for their car.
At this point it was decided to evacuate. We had another relative who lived about 4 miles away on much higher ground. To help guard gainst flooding,all the appliances and as much padded furniture as possible was placed up on chairs off the floor.
We set out about 3 a.m. In our hike we had to travel over very steep terrain, with laurel bushes so thick we had to crawl on our hands and knees.
Being a young boy, I thought this was exciting and terrifying at the same time. Small brooks had become raging torrents, and many times we had to form "human chains" to get everyone across.
About six hours later we reached our goal. We found my uncle waiting there with neighbors watching the flood.
His red Chevy pickup truck looked so wonderful! Now we could RIDE instead of crawl!
My uncle's house was built in the 1700s, and had two huge fireplaces, so we now had some heat and were able to cook. We boiled water to guard aginst disease.
The next day a strange thing happened. A huge truck came slowly down the road, and stopped when we walked out to see.
The truck was loaded with bread! The driver had found himself trapped by water in all directions. Since he couldn't deliver his load, the driver was going around and distributing bread to all who needed it!
It was around two weeks before we were able to return to our house. The cellar was filled with mud and rotting pears.
It was an indescribable smell. The mud was even about 3 feet deep on the main floor! All the appliances and furniture were ruined.
In the front yard was a giant sycamore tree. There was the metal roof of a trailer wrapped around it numerous times like a huge piece of tin foil!
Due to my age and all the disease warnings going around, I was eventually sent to stay in Waterbury with friends of the family, where I received vaccinations and food was being distributed on a regular basis.I wasn't happy about this - I'd be missing all the excitement!
Although I was small at the time, I realized that the "Flood" would always be a major event in my life.